MIAMI GARDENS — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel already said following his team’s Oct. 29 home win over the New England Patriots that it could lead the league in potential distractions as the Dolphins were in line to travel to Germany to face the Kansas City Chiefs and then knew what was coming upon their return.
NFL Films crew members were already in the Dolphins locker room this week introducing themselves to players after a light Tuesday walkthrough, before the team took the rest of the week off ahead of their bye this weekend.
The recordings for the HBO reality series “Hard Knocks,” traditionally a show that tracks a team from inside its facilities during training camp but choosing the Dolphins as its third team to follow in-season, are starting after the idle weekend.
When it was first announced Oct. 23 Miami would be the subject of the hit program, the Dolphins weren’t exactly thrilled. A team that has Super Bowl aspirations and is trying to overcome the narrative that it can’t defeat other contenders doesn’t need cameras around in the middle of the season to publicize internal team conversations, moments and feuds.
“I wouldn’t call it a team decision,” McDaniel said that day. “But at the same time, you guys know me well enough that I steer clear of worrying about things that we can’t control. It’s something that I conveyed to the team for the first time (Oct. 23), and I see some positives with this particular team, just knowing that there’s a lot of things in terms of when we do have success on the field, that people kind of are curious as to how that happens. I think they’ll see exactly where that comes from.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people to see our day-in, day-out hard work. I know there’s a lot of guys on this team that will garner interest, really. I think that a platform for them to showcase who they are and really the fanbase to get to know the players and coaches better, I can understand the value to the National Football League, to HBO, to NFL Films, and I can understand the value for the Miami Dolphins.”
The following Wednesday, when a reporter mentioned “Hard Knocks” coming to Miami Gardens, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa paused a long 11 seconds with a stoic face before answering: “That was probably my reaction.
“I have no control over that. That was probably not necessarily the best body language I’ve had in a team meeting as it was being introduced to us that we were going to be on ‘Hard Knocks.’”
But players feel, like they always have to do to various circumstances, they’ll adjust.
“It’s going to be something we have to adapt to, having the cameras around,” wide receiver Jaylen Waddle said. “But I feel like it’s something everybody watches, so you kind of know what to expect watching episodes and seasons. So you kind of have an idea of what it’s going to be.”
McDaniel believes his team can handle any incoming distractions.
“It’s something that I think that this particular team is equipped to handle, just because the focus of really how they go about their day-in day-out jobs,” he said. “In the National Football League, the bottom line is, if you’re getting done what your whole mission statement is, it’s going to be done under a spotlight. So getting used to having a weekly spotlight for this young team isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.”
The cameras will be rolling through the end of the season, as McDaniel understands it.
“It will be part of our DNA really after the Germany game at some point,” McDaniel said.
The Dolphins enter the bye 6-3 and leading the AFC East. They will remain there after the idle week. If the season ended today, Miami would be the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture.
The bye, which is rarely said to come at a bad time, comes after Miami lost a heartbreaker to the Chiefs in Frankfurt, Germany, rallying from down three touchdowns but falling short 21-14. The Dolphins have lost to the three winning teams they’ve faced.
“You’re going to have highs and lows,” McDaniel said Tuesday. “You’re going to have successes and failures. It’s learning how to take those and move forward for the eventual, inevitable elimination games. Those will always occur, whether you’re playing yourself into the playoffs or in the playoffs. Ultimately, if you’re in the fabric of the equation of the end of the season, you’re going to face elimination games, and that’s when you’re going to have to be your best.”
Miami starts the final stretch with the Las Vegas Raiders at home on Nov. 19.
It’s not known when “Hard Knocks” will air its first episode.
The Dolphins were previously on “Hard Knocks” in 2012, when the series showed quarterback Ryan Tannehill winning the battle for starter and receiver Chad Johnson getting released under then coach Joe Philbin.